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Now here's a black struggle

OPINION

  • "Black Dynamite"
"Black Dynamite"
September 11, 2013|By Yusef Williams, @lovefromthbrain | For RedEye

Can I get a black movie NOT about the struggle?

I mean, I love movies as much as the next guy. I am a believer in the idea that all movies are good if you give them a chance. The fact that I will still watch anything made by Adam Sandler is a testament to this belief.

Every year, I look forward to the massive amount of movies that will be released. And every year I look for one movie in particular: the black movie that is not about the struggle.

I don't go to the movies to be educated. When I want to learn something, I read about it. When I go the movies, I go to escape the monotony of my daily existence and lose myself for a few hours in a story.

That's why I avoid movies like "42." I don't want to retreat to a world where white men spit on a baseball player because of the color of his skin. That's not entertaining; that's infuriating. It harkens to the dark days of mass ignorance and, to be frank, it makes me mad.

The only solace I take in a movie like "42" is that it was written by a white man and that maybe by telling Jackie Robinson's story he is in some way absolving his white guilt.

It's worse when black writers do it. It's like black screenwriters see white writers penning films about the horrific trials and tribulations that African-Americans must endure—as in Kathryn Stockett's "The Help"—and black screenwriters such as John Ridley and Geoffrey S. Fletcher respond by writing equally horrific screenplays such as "Precious," "Red Tails" or the upcoming "12 Years a Slave."

If it isn't the black man trying to excel in the white man's world after years of suffering in "Lee Daniels' The Butler," it's the black woman struggling to find a good man in David E. Talbert's "Baggage Claim." Either way, it's always a struggle. It's always about how hard it is and how depressing it is and how much one has to overcome to win.

What about fun? What about adventure? What about mysteries or science fiction or romantic quirky love without the fight?

I was taught there are only four types of stories: man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. machine; and man vs. self. Am I to believe that the only stories we have to tell is man vs. man—specifically, black man vs. white man? I refuse.

Shonda Rhimes wrote "Princess Diaries 2." Marlon Wayans wrote "A Haunted House." Byron Minns wrote "Black Dynamite." These movies were fun. Not Oscar-worthy—well, maybe "Black Dynamite" was—but still fun. And they were entertaining.

I get it. "Our" stories must be told. And I appreciate the way Ryan Coogler humanized Oscar Grant with "Fruitvale Station." Still, I left that movie feeling the same way I do leaving many a movie of that genre: mad. And I don't go to the movies to get upset. I go to be entertained.

So, once again I am looking at the long list of movies to be released in 2014 and once again I am without a black struggle-less movie. Maybe 2015 will be my year.

Yusef Williams is a RedEye special contributor.

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